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  • Writer's pictureKarly Michelle

5 works of art that have comforted me

Art is not simply something that hangs in a gallery and is viewed in austere silence and with confused reverence.

I go to galleries because I like art, but I still find galleries intrinsically weird places where we all have to adjust to fit into the expected mind frame and behaviour so that I can stay.

So... I have been on a bit of a quest recently to try and work out how to make art more accessible, essentially how to take it out of the galleries and into our lives. I haven’t necessarily worked it out but, I think the way we simply think about art has a lot to do with it.

(When I am referring to ‘art’ here I am mostly ignoring the art that is more aimed towards design / advertising / purely for decoration. Nothing wrong with this type of art, it’s just not what I am talking about here.)

In an effort to take art out of the ‘silent, reverent, white walls’ of the gallery I thought I’d begin to share some of my own feelings about particular art works.

Today that is 5 works that have somehow comforted me.

Art is not always able to be explained or understood in words but I’ll do my best. I’m also not necessarily writing about what the artists intended, or what you might see. This is just what I felt.

The best thing is to take the time to have a look at the works. I’ve only included works where I’ve been able to find a link them. Click on the artist name or work of art to go to the image - trust me, each artwork is worth visiting!

1. Ranjani Shettar


I went in to see this exhibition at the NGV in 2011 and fell in love with these floating, shadowy rings. The feeling of the sense of floating has stayed with me and influenced my own work and I already loved the use of shadows. There was something deeply beautiful about these very simple shapes and structures that just hung there in their space. I wanted to be able to get a cup of tea and sit under them, but instead had to just come back to the room they were in a few times and hope it wasn’t too busy.

2. Libby Byrne

Deep cries out to deep (the image in the centre on the top row)

I saw the original of this at Libby’s exhibition at Chapel on Station Gallery and felt the strong connection between these two people.

Even though the person down the bottom appears to be having to hold themselves up, they don’t necessarily seem to be dominated. Instead I feel they are the one offering something in the oval egg of light to the person above. I couldn't afford a print but I did buy a smaller postcard of this which I still have.

3. Mark Rothko

Number 22

I haven’t seen this one ‘in the flesh’ but there is still something about it that seems to radiate light. It’s quite large and Rothko used textured brush strokes which, when I have seen his work in real life ( , makes me want to touch it (but I don’t, cos I know you’re not supposed it….:). There is something about the tension between the simplicity of the idea of this painting contrasted with the beautiful space it leaves for you to get a little lost inside it that I think draws me in, offers some sort of comfort and is a bit uplifting.

4. Antony Gormley Sound II

Again, not one that I’ve seen in real life, but even the images from books and online have stayed with me and given me hope that we might be able to find a sense of renewed spirituality within our places of worship. I find this calming yet inspiring, restful yet energising.

In particular it is the 2nd image (Sound II from a distance) that stays with me. This is the image I see in my minds eye when I think about it. The figure from a distance, standing in the water that reflects the beautiful arches back towards themselves. The figure is alone but not lost. We can see the figures ‘stitching’, the individual sections that make up their whole self.

5. Peder Severin Kroyer Marie in the Garden

If you’ve heard me talk at Tabor you’ve probably heard about this one. This was a pivotal picture for me. I’ve never seen the real thing, I stumbled across it in an old calendar of classic paintings. But this image stayed with me through many difficult times. This beautiful lady and garden represented all sorts of things for me. She gave me a place to sit by her and read, a beautiful garden to look at, an opportunity to be with others when I couldn’t physically or actually be with others. I still love this painting and find comfort in it, both because it reminds me of what it was then, but also because of what it has become now. I can now place myself within different locations of this painting to what I could before.

If this is something you are greatly interested then I recommend that you look up some of Alain de Botton as I am finding his work very helpful in this thought process.

There’s a great article and lecture at: (it is 45 mins but a worthwhile 45mins)

#art #artspirituality #artandfaith #alaindebottom #feelingart #rothko #gormley #severinkroyer #byrne #ranjanishettar #thecomfortofart

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